Commercial HVAC Basics to Help You Choose the Best Company for Your Business
Choosing an HVAC contractor is not as easy as one may think, because it’s a job that requires understanding commercial HVAC basics. It also means doing significant research into professional reputations because, just like any other profession, it’s very easy to wind up with a subpar contractor if you don’t do your due diligence.
You need to thoroughly vet prospective HVAC contractors and their ability to properly follow through on taking care of commercial HVAC basics so that you ensure you get a real professional, rather than just a bunch of handymen who over-inflate their professional credentials.
So, what exactly is best practice when it comes to choosing the right HVAC contractor with an understanding of commercial HVAC basics? Here are some tips that can help you avoid the typical pitfalls and select the right HVAC company:
Check the License
Make sure you pick an HVAC contractor that is licensed by the Contractors State License Board. There are many HVAC contractors that say they have a license but who are actually working without one. It’s essential you find out for sure if an HVAC contractor is licensed, because a licensed contractor will have been required to prove competency in electrical and plumbing applications, as well as in manipulating gas lines. This is important because the last thing you need is somebody coming in to take care of your HVAC needs who doesn’t know how to properly close off your gas line or dispose of refrigerant.
The easiest way to check if a contractor is licensed is to check its brochures and website information or to ask for the license number. For example, Entek Corporation has included its license numbers for both Oregon and Washington on its website’s running footer. You should then be able to confirm with the state license board that the license is up-to-date.
A reputable HVAC company will be happy to provide you with its license number. If a contractor refuses to share the number, strike that company from your list of maybes.
Get an Inspection
If an HVAC contractor gives you an estimate or a bid over the phone, run. All furnaces and air conditioning units are different, so it’s nearly impossible for anybody to give an accurate estimate without even seeing the unit and its surroundings in person.
Without an in-person inspection, how can any contractor know what the ducts, windows, insulation, and registers per room look like? Seeing those things is the only way to properly understand exactly what needs to be done and the cost it may incur.
So any HVAC contractor who tries to give you an estimate over the phone or without properly surveying your home should immediately be disqualified from being hired. There’s no way a technician can know the correct way to proceed or what the job will cost based only on your description of the problem. It’s unprofessional to do so.
With most HVAC companies, the service inspection and estimate should be free.
Make Sure It’s Out with the Old and In with the New
If an HVAC contractor attempts to replace your furnace or AC unit with the exact same model you already have, hire somebody else. If you’re looking to move on from your 2000 Honda Civic, would a car dealership recommend buying another 2000 Honda Civic? Of course not.
The average air conditioner lasts for roughly a decade, a furnace maybe 15 years, and it’s important to update the unit so the quality will be increased and your home can have a higher level of energy efficiency. Any well-trained HVAC professional will know this and encourage you to upgrade.
So if contractors attempt to sell you an older model, odds are they have that unit in their inventory already and are simply looking to unload it. Any company who tries to operate that say is not a company you want to do business with.
Get It in Writing
If an HVAC company doesn’t give you a written estimate, you should be very suspicious. While, technically, a verbal agreement is legally binding, it is almost impossible to prove in court, and all contractors know that. So if an HVAC contractor tries to get you to agree to a contract verbally but doesn’t put it in writing, that could be a tell-tale sign the company is up to something underhanded.
An HVAC contractor should be willing to provide you with a written estimate detailing the work that will be done, as well as the price. If a contractor doesn’t do this, that company is acting unprofessionally, and it’s in your best interest to find somebody who will act with a higher level of professionalism.
Read the reviews
In the age of the internet, online reviews are an incredibly important resource for discovering information about an HVAC contractor you may be considering. You should proceed with caution here because fake negative reviews can be left by competitors or those with an agenda, while fake positive reviews can be left by those within the company or people the company paid.
The best course of action is to read all reviews and follow what the larger consensus seems to be regarding whether this particular contracting company is one that is worth using.
Get What You Pay For
Saving money is good, but don’t get carried away. It’s understandable that you’ll likely be working within a fairly tight budget and are going to want to save as much money as possible. But you shouldn’t just blindly select the HVAC contractor who charges the least amount of money. Cost should be a factor, but not the only factor, as the cheapest contractors are often cheap for a reason. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and when an HVAC contracting company is unusually cheap, often it’s because they are operating without a license or using equipment that is either stolen or secondhand.
The worst part about going this route is that you risk the job will be done poorly, forcing you to call in a real professional to redo the job, meaning you will end up paying twice. Your best bet is to get multiple estimates, compare them based on price and the background research you do on each company’s reputation, and then choose the contractor who offers you the best middle ground between price and quality.